As we move towards a more meaningful focus on clients, we need to embrace the opportunity to take deliberate steps to address our overall customer orientation, writes Momentum Short-term Insurance CEO, Brand Pretorius.
How the short-term insurance market gears its focus on the needs of clients will be a key determinant of the success of the sector as a whole for 2016. This is especially true in what has been a legislatively heavy year, likely to impact the behaviours of both short-term insurance providers.
As we move towards a more meaningful focus on clients, we need to embrace the opportunity to take deliberate steps that address our overall customer orientation. This means keeping up with both local and global consumer demands for innovative insurance solutions that deliver on the principles of the Retail Distribution Review (RDR). This, while also addressing the client’s need to feel that short-term insurance is a meaningful part of the individual journey towards financial wellness.
To a large degree, the RDR itself addresses functional areas of the customer journey, such as improvements in professionalism, services offered as well as the quality and cost of advice. But this needs to be further challenged in crossing the divide between the letter of the law and spirit of the law in building confidence and trust in the short-term sector as a whole.
Research suggests there has been a decrease in consumer complaints relating to advisers since 2010, it does mean that more can be done to educate clients on what constitutes suitable advice. This is a paradigm shift, which requires resetting the conversations (read the supply of advice) around the financial wellness of individuals and their communities by unlocking the value of safety, and what this in itself translates to as positive risk behaviours where we drive education and engagement.
Indeed, education is an important focus area for the year ahead and it’s our responsibility to make this a deliberate effort in all our communications. Education is a critical function of a client focus and addresses our commitment to provide fair and relevant insurance solutions, which clients understand and, therefore, appreciate.
Historically the focus has often been on selling products over perceived real needs. However, the time has come for the sector to cross the divide between knowing that its need to focus on customers is important, to one where it is doing this by innovating around client demand and product solutions.
This also requires us to understand that this year’s successes will be driven through client-centric solutions that strike a balance between product innovation, managing client risks (often through education-driven outreach), client engagement and the understanding of “real needs” through how we interpret the increasing amount of client data we have.
What’s important is that this is something the sector can (and should) be doing with its intermediaries by using the opportunity to collectively create, co-create and review what is provided to clients in terms of solutions.
If 2016 is to truly be a client-focused year, it will commence from the changes we make from within as a sector. Consumers will win in the long run, and we will have delivered on our commitments to safeguard consumer needs… and it’s a journey we are committed to.